Dan and I are now a part of an Early Response Team. We spent the day in training, learning there is more than turning up with a chain saw.
The ERT training is part of UMVIM (United Methodist Volunteers In Mission) which is also part of a larger group of organizations that coordinate volunteers when disaster strikes. We are required to pass the basic training today, take an additional class on Safe Gatherings and pass a background check. At first, it might seem a bit extreme just to help with clean up. There are very good reasons for these regulations.
A point that was mentioned many times today is that volunteers must be invited in to help after a storm. The people who have suffered losses must be treated with upmost respect and care. Their personal belongings the same.
Secondly, we learned we will be placed in a group. And, within that group will be people placed as leaders according to their ability and talent. Just like in any workplace, it is important to maintain order.
Contrary to popular belief, FEMA does an excellent job of helping where they are needed. The instructor today had participated in many cleanup areas. He said he was amazed at how quickly FEMA showed up with bathrooms and bottled water, the two most important immediate needs.
At the present time, we should expect around a three month time frame for our approval. That would be in time for spring Let’s hope we are not needed.